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Recap | Box Score | This Week's Scoreboard
Florida 55, Louisiana Monroe 6
Posted: Saturday September 08, 2001 11:33 PM ET
Louisiana Monroe
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GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- For 10 minutes, it was hard to tell who was No. 1 and who was No. 117. Then Rex Grossman and top-ranked Florida got untracked.

Grossman overcame a slow start to throw for 331 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters as Florida cruised to a 55-6 beating of Louisiana-Monroe.

The Gators (2-0) may have been looking ahead to next week's huge showdown with Tennessee. Or they may not have put much stock in the Indians (0-2), who according to one computer ranking system were the 117th and worst Division I-A team.

Whatever it was, Florida got off to a very slow start, trailing for the first 12 minutes and leading just 7-6 after one quarter, which had to have coach Steve Spurrier seething.

"We had some errant plays here and there but hopefully we can learn from it," Spurrier said.

In the second period, Florida exploded for 31 points, including three TD passes in a 5:22 span by Grossman. Robert Gillespie's TD run and Jeff Chandler's field goal gave the Gators a 38-6 halftime lead.

It was more of the same in the second half and Spurrier emptied the bench. Florida outgained Louisiana-Monroe, 600-105, and held a 34-5 advantage in first downs.

"I told them I was very proud of them," said Louisiana-Monroe coach Bobby Keasler, which was coming off a 20-9 loss to Sam Houston State. "I thought they didn't quit for four quarters against a great football team. We did make some mistakes but I think we improved as a football team."

Grossman completed 23-of-34 passes with an interception. Earnest Graham had 82 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Jabar Gaffney had eight catches for 102 yards and two scores and Reche Caldwell added five for 62 and a TD.

"It took a while for us to get in our rhythm but when we did we got a lot of points on the board," Grossman said. "The passing game did pretty well out there tonight."

The Gators improved to 49-0 at home under Spurrier vs. unranked foes.

Grossman fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and linebacker Chester Thompson recovered at the Gators 23. Andy Chance threw a 21-yard pass to Mack Vincent and Ivory Brown banged it in two plays later, giving the Indians a surprising lead.

"I think it was a good experience for a lot of our younger guys," Chance said. "It's good to come out and have a good start to any ballgame but especially here. It seems like when you go to these big schools, they jump on you right away and everybody put their head down or gets down from there."

That was it for Louisiana-Monroe, which averaged a starting spot of its own 18 on its remaining seven first-half possessions. However, it took Florida a while to get going as the Gators went three-and-out, managed one first down and fumbled it away on the next three possessions.

"We will have to work this week," Gaffney said. "With a team like Tennessee, we will have to be on our game and be able to step up."

Graham capped a 63-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring run for a 7-6 lead with 2:53 left in the first quarter.

Then the Gators got in gear. Grossman found Caldwell with a 16-yard scoring toss and Gaffney with a 10-yarder, completing a pair of 66-yard drives each in under 100 seconds.

Graham's 34-yard run set up a 24-yard TD pass from Grossman to Gaffney that made it 28-6 with 9:18 to play in the first half. That drive lasted just 50 seconds.

In the third quarter, Graham had a three-yard TD run and Brock Berlin threw a three-yard scoring pass to Rob Roberts, making it 52-6. Brendt Talcott kicked a 28-yard field goal in the final period.

Berlin was 9-of-13 for 95 yards and Gillespie ran for 68 yards on 10 carries.

Chance was 6-of-18 for 63 yards before being replaced by Andre Vige, who was 5-of-8 for 15 yards.

"Despite the score, they kept fighting hard," Florida linebacker Alex Brown said. "This team (Monroe) had a lot of heart that will lead them to something someday."

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